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In the past you went to school, graduated and took a job. Your education pretty much stopped the day you took home your first paycheck.
Today the Internet has opened up hundreds of new career advancement possibilities. You can get basic craft training, professional certification classes, continuing education credits, safety training, equipment maintenance best practices and a whole slew of construction management classes all from the convenience of a personal computer.
Some of the services listed below offer pure Internet training; others mix Internet with products such as CDs, DVDs, manuals and other material you order online. Note also that there are too many online construction education resources to tell you about here. If you don’t find what you’re looking for in this article, use an Internet search engine like Google or Yahoo to narrow your search down to more specific needs.
Moving into management
The leap from hourly employee to supervisor or manager is often hard to make. The website www.ConstructionClasses.com, offered through San Diego State University, offers several different certification programs online that can help make you a knowledgeable construction site supervisor. These include a Certificate in On-site Supervision (three classes), Construction Supervisor Certificate in Project Management (three classes), Certificate in Construction Supervisory Technologies (3 classes), Certificate in Construction Estimating (6 classes) and Certificate in Construction Practices (9 classes). For more information go to: www.constructionclasses.com/sdsu.htm.
Getting your license
Getting a general contractor’s license in most states requires a lot of study. And many of the professions allied with construction require certified individuals to obtain a certain number of continuing education credits every year.
RedVector is an online continuing education and professional development company that offers more than 900 courses for architects, contractors, interior designers, surveyors, landscape architects and others. Many of these are geared toward state-specific licensing requirements. And if you want to bone up on basics like superpave mix design, or research an obscure application such as bamboo or straw bale construction, RedVector covers the spectrum. Check out the list at www.redvector.com.
Another online source that can help you get a contractor’s license or professional certification is www.ContractorExam.com. Here you can get materials for the company’s four-part study system, which includes a video training course, a tutorial, practice exam, and self-prompting computer software. Subjects include electrical, general builder, mechanical, plumbing and road building licenses and most construction trade classifications.
Perhaps the most comprehensive collection of online safety and environmental courses for the construction industry is found at the Associated General Contractors Online Institute. Here there are a variety of programs including the OSHA 10-hour and 30-hour Construction Industry Training Program, as well as equipment and application specific safety training, including demolition, excavation, fall protection, cranes and rigging and more. Many of these are also offered in Spanish. To view the full range, go to www.agc.org, scroll down to the Training and Education subhead in the middle column and click on the Online Institute.
Caterpillar recently launched a website dedicated to construction safety. At http://safety.cat.com you can find online videos of walk-around inspections and operating tips as well as multi-media presentations and toolbox talks on a variety of safety topics.
Another safety training website you may find useful is www.clicksafety.com. This site covers a wide variety of safety topics and includes OSHA authorized courses, Spanish language, Department of Transportation and Workplace Management courses. The company’s awareness courses cover a variety of short topics such as fall protection, hazard communication, personal protective equipment, trench and excavation awareness and working around mobile equipment.
Learning about lubes
Even the best trade school training for diesel mechanics and technicians tend to skip lightly over the subject of engine lubes, coolants and greases. Yet when these young technicians get out into the real world they quickly discover that these products are some of the most critical items for maintaining machine health.
Chevron has taken a shot at addressing this shortcoming by creating the Chevron Lubricants University, www.lubricantsuniversity.com, an educational website focused on lubrication and coolant issues. These all-web based, self-study courses are designed for the maintenance professional and include everything from basic topics such as “Fundamentals of Lubrication” (in English and Spanish), as well as hot topics in the news such as: API-CJ4 Lubricants for 2007 Low Emissions Diesel Engines. The site also has safety tips, troubleshooting advice and an “Ask the Expert” column.
While it’s unlikely you’ll ever get a four-year civil engineering degree online, you can get similar training and skills from online university sources. Several dozen schools now offer an Associates Degree in Civil Engineering Technology via online sources. To find out more about these, type “associates degree civil engineering technology” into a web search program and see where it takes you.
Most colleges and universities offer extension courses or distance learning programs that, while not full bachelor’s or master’s certification programs, can supplement these advanced degree programs with online self-study. Research your local or state colleges and universities and find out what they offer in terms of online learning or what’s sometimes called distance learning.